The Community First Oxfordshire story

CFO’s celebrated its centenary in 2020 – A Century of Supporting Communities takes you on a trip through the last 100 years!

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CFO is a community development charity which helps communities and individuals to identify issues that affect them and find their own solutions. We support and advise volunteer-led actions in Oxfordshire, helping hundreds of volunteers fulfil many roles in their communities. We support the principles of Asset-based Community Development. We think that stronger, more sustainable communities are built using the skills and gifts that people already have.

The values and practice of CFO are rooted in human rights, social justice, and respect for diversity. In our projects we seek to achieve inclusion, remove barriers to involvement, and challenge racism and discrimination.

CFO believes that equality and inclusion create strong, creative, and dynamic places to live and work. We have developed an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan to hold ourselves accountable to those values and allow for an ongoing appraisal of how they can be better embedded in CFO’s community work and working practices.

CFO Vision: Strong, diverse, inclusive, and thriving communities.


Mission: Supporting communities to find solutions to their planning, housing, social action, and service needs. Promoting positive change for all.


Asset-Based Community Development: ABCD is a bottom-up way of strengthening communities through recognising, identifying and harnessing existing ‘assets’ (i.e. things like skills, knowledge, capacity, resources, experience or enthusiasm) that individuals and communities have which can help to strengthen and improve things locally. Instead of looking at what a community needs or lacks, the approach focuses on utilising the ‘assets’ that are already there.


Strategic Objectives

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Community Planning and Action

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Asset Based Community Development

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How we can help

  • Knowledge and practical experience: design and management of quality projects
  • Contacts: deep reach into networks of voluntary organisations and communities
  • Track record: communities and the statutory sector know we get results
  • Stakeholder management: with the community, statutory and private sectors
  • Partnership working: collaboration is at the heart of our work
  • Best practice: advice drawn from evidence of ‘what works’ in Oxfordshire and beyond
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Our Staff

Face of Tom McCulloch

Tom McCulloch

Joint CEO

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Tom is joint-CEO of Community First Oxfordshire. Tom is a community development and research specialist. He has helped build CFO into the ‘go to’ local organisation for communities seeking high quality support throughout the Neighbourhood Planning process. Tom has brokered on the ground community development worker projects on major developments at Woodstock and Heyford Park and has led on placemaking and community development research for multiple public and private sector clients, including Blenheim Estate, Sovereign Housing Association, Oxfordshire County Council, and Cherwell, South Oxfordshire, and Vale of White Horse District Councils.

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Face of Emily Lewis-Edwards

Emily Lewis-Edwards

Joint CEO

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Emily is Joint CEO of CFO. She has worked with rural and urban communities for a number of years, supporting the County’s community transport sector to thrive. She leads on placemaking projects in new developments at Heyford Park and Graven Hill. She also leads on our health and ageing work such as the Dementia Friendly Communities project. She has a Post Graduate Certificate in transport planning and a BA in development studies. She is a member of the Oxford Strategic Partnership.

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Face of Gemma Tindsley

Gemma Tindsley

Senior Administrator

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Gemma supports the CFO team as Senior Administrator and is also serving as Parish Clerk for Kingham Village. Gemma has over 15 years of experience in administrative/office roles and loves to organize and be part of a team. In her spare time, Gemma enjoys running, walks and spending time with her family.

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Face of Tessa Hall

Tessa Hall

Community Buildings and Retail Adviser

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Tessa previously worked for the Community Council for Berkshire for 10 years, teaching and putting on training events, managing funding for community projects, and carrying out consultation events. More recently, she has helped communities in West Berkshire develop Parish Plans and supported them to carry out projects from the plans. She has been working with Thatcham Town Council to get their Parish Plan refresh adopted by West Berkshire Council and to reconnect with all their amazing volunteers after all the hard work of producing their plan. Tessa likes walking, gardening, reading and loves singing, co-leading a community choir in Newbury.

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Face of Lisa Stead

Lisa Stead

Community Development Programme Officer

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Lisa has two roles at CFO. She manages the Supporting Communities through Covid 19 Fund, providing ‘grants plus’ support to 26 grantees and other community groups and charities in Oxfordshire. Lisa is also the lead for Community-led Planning and Community Review services and training to help strengthen social infrastructure for communities across Oxfordshire, based on ABCD principles and practise. Her portfolio includes 13 years in international development working with partners and community groups in Asia, Africa and Latin America to develop, implement and evaluate poverty/ low-income housing projects and associated projects (water and sanitation, community development, disaster response, land rights and microfinance etc.). She also has a varied background in art and design as a designer in the fashion industry, an art and design lecturer in further and higher education and pursuing academic research via an MA and PhD in Fashion and Technology. A feature of her approach is the use of creative facilitation to support community engagement and social action.

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Face of Fiona Brown

Fiona Brown

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Fiona is a Rural Housing Enabler and also the Communities Lead at Collaborative Housing. She provides support for parish councils which are seeking to provide local affordable housing and works with community housing groups to take forward citizen-led housing projects. She has over 30 years’ experience in the management and delivery of affordable housing through Housing Associations and Local Authorities. She is an accredited CLH Advisor through the Institute of Housing.

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Face of Stephen Mckenna

Stephen Mckenna

Community Planning Officer

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Stephen has worked in the field of planning and development for over 30 years, working on major regeneration schemes through to small community projects. As a qualified Chartered Town Planner and a Chartered Surveyor working in the development process from strategy through to implementation, Stephen has in depth knowledge of the planning system. He has worked in both the public and private sector advising on development management and policy and has acted an expert witness in many planning appeals. More recently he has worked for a major charity working with communities across the country, working as a bridge between developers, landowners and communities. He is also an elected Borough Councillor in Surrey sitting on the Planning Committee.

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Face of Kay Sentance

Kay Sentance

Community Development Worker

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Kay is a Rural Housing Enabler. She provides support for parish councils which are seeking to provide local affordable housing. Kay’s formal training and degree is in interior Architecture, which she studied in Germany. She has over 25 years experience of working with communities and youth work through theatre productions,  local history exhibitions and public art commissions. On a grassroots level, Kay has initiated intersocial art-spaces,  exploring how communities relate to the space and people they encounter. These spaces have been in launderettes, take-aways and on buses. Kay has also been an elected parish councillor for 9 years. She is an active member of the Soha scrutiny committee, a member of Thame Community Land Trust, and has been involved with community-led housing for more than 10 years.

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Face of Rosie Phillips

Rosie Phillips

Community Development Worker

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Rosie has lived in many different places and worked with a variety of companies over the years, but all have involved direct contact with the public.  She has spent the past five years in Community Development, supporting residents in new housing developments.  She also has a background in teaching, training, pastoral care, leadership, networking and team development. She sings in a community choir and loves to dance.

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Lorna Mills

Finance Officer and OxOil Coordinator

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Our Board of Trustees

Chris Kenneford

Bev Hindle

Jon Bright

Jackie Wilderspin


Gill Bindoff


Malcolm Taylor


Our Patrons

Jonathan Reuvid


Catherine Bearder

Celia Collett


Dr J V Sharp

Our partners and stakeholders